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Exterminating Abortion Black Market in Nigeria

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People who are lucky enough to survive an abortion would ordinarily shy away from telling their experience because they feel the society would stigmatize and castigate them.

However, some few persons who craved anonymity shared their horrible experiences in an attempt to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, explaining the difficulty involved in getting a doctor -which in most cases are unqualified quacks- to carry out a D&C (Dilation and Curettage) and the excruciating pains they suffer during and after the process.

Some even go as far as consuming, unsafe herbal, natural and alcoholic substances such as (ogogoro), caffeine, mixture of lime, aluminum and potassium sulphate, tetracycline mixed with gin among others, just to get rid of an unwanted child.

The use of the above stated substances and patronage of quack doctors for D&C is what I tag ‘Abortion Black Market’.

Abortion, which is the deliberate termination of human pregnancy, which in most cases is performed within the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.

The term ‘Black market’ is basically an economic term used to refer to the administration of a market below or outside government approved standards with no regard for regulations.

Wikipedia defines Black Market as one characterized by some form of non compliant behavior with an institutional set of rules.

Thus Abortion Black Market for the purpose of this article is the practice of abortion underground in a way not compliant with standard medical rules and ethics.

This practice has claimed and destroyed so many lives due to errors and complications during and after the process; some ladies even lose their womb or sustain severe damage to their reproductive system.

I state here with no apologies that this unholy practice would continue with its attendant consequences until the federal government of Nigeria deems it fit to legalize abortion, by backing the act up with the legality of law.

Don’t be parochial to think everyone seeking an abortion got pregnant as a result of promiscuity, some were raped, others were failed by their adopted birth control method, even married couples seek abortion, and some need an abortion because the pregnancy may pose some kind of risk to kive if the pregnancy is kept.

Substantiating the need for the legality of abortion in Nigeria, a research conducted by United States-based Guttmacher Institute, in collaboration with University of Ibadan (UI) and Ipas, a non-governmental organisation, over 1.25 million abortions are carried out in Nigeria every year, with majority of such procedures done in secret and mostly by unprofessional hands such as traditional attendants and herbalists.

Corroborating the above, a recent BBC report suggests that of the high number of abortions recorded in Nigeria, over 60 per cent are unsafe, while 20 per cent of the 60 per cent are done by traditional healers or the women themselves.

Prof. Innocent Ujah, the Director General of Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), at a forum organized by the Federation of International Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (FIGO) in Abuja put the number of deaths from unsafe abortions in the country at 34,000, adding that this has contributed between 13 per cent and 50 per cent of maternal and child mortality in the country.

One would wonder why people still patronize these abortion black markets despite the high death rates that occur there.

The answer is not farfetched; because in a country like Nigeria where it is illegal to perform abortion, except in rare cases where the pregnancy poses a huge risk to the mother.. This explains why standard hospitals with the required equipment and environment do not venture into the trade.

It is high time the government becomes reasonable and sensitive to the realities of our nation in terms of maternal mortality that is threatened on a daily basis by unsafe abortions.

The government needs to legalize abortion to enable those seeking it to walk freely into any standard hospital without reproach of any kind so as to stop the patronage of quacks in the field.

Besides saving lives, legalizing abortion would also help to ensure the regulation of the ever growing population in the face of our current economic situation.

Fapetu Folashade is currently studying Mass Communication at the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, Ondo State.

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